Millennials: The masters of tailoring a message

Author: Whitney Smith

For some, picturing a master communicator may look like a professional public speaker or even an employee who uses “Reply to All” at only the most opportune times. While less than a handful of today’s professional public speakers are millennials and many have learned the lesson of “Reply to All” the hard way, millennials are master communicators in what is often the most overlooked aspect of a good communicator: the ability to tailor a message to an audience.

 Millennials are still characterized as a group that tends to send short bursts of emails. As a generation who is accustomed to projecting their thoughts to a following in 140 characters or less, we know how to get a point across, and we know who wants to hear it.

For example, I live in an eight-person apartment with friends who all run in similar circles. Like clockwork after an event that the whole apartment attends, the race for a clever, well-filtered Instagram post is on. While these moments before posting are short, they contain an unsuspected amount of thought, discussion and consideration. One girl needs help coming up with a punchy caption. Another girl solicits opinions on which filter to use. Suddenly our living room is buzzing with eight different conversations, each dedicated to producing a perfect post. Regardless of the questions being asked, the underlying considerations of the spur-of-the-moment think-tanking is, “What will my following think?”

From these seemingly insignificant times of just trying to let their followers know that they have done something interesting, my roommates have shown me an unspoken but calculated side of millennials as communicators that I had yet to recognize. This is a group that not only knows and masters the trends of social media, but also relies on the ability to tailor and produce follower-driven posts.

Millennials have seen the rise and fall of countless Internet trends, fads and even celebrities. They know how personal web content can make or break a following. From the trial and error process of seeing which posts get the most likes and on what forms of social media, garnering feedback and affirmation from nontraditional communication is second-nature to millennials.

From something as small and personal as an Instagram post, millennials consider what their following will be the most reactive and interactive to. This is a generation that thrives off open communication, feedback and affirmation.

Time is crucial to millennials, as most are living in a balancing act whether it consists of school, projects, or careers, and any time spent working on a task incorrectly is time lost. No one wants to do an entire project over because they did not receive clear instructions. The constant chase for feedback and affirmation comes not from a place of uncertainty or a lack of confidence, but from a place that views time and efficiency as vehicles to opportunity. The millennial view aggressively attempts to give the coolest content with the least amount of words.When their time is respected and instructions are clear, millennials can take charge and accomplish more, faster and often in new and innovative ways.

Millennials are changing the communications game because qualities such as reaching an audience are close to inherent for this generation. For older generations, these new methods of communication can be frustrating and difficult to understand, but as comedian James Veich explained in his TED Talk on “The Agony of Trying to Unsubscribe,”[1] “Don’t fight the frustration, let it be a catalyst for whimsy.” As a creative generation built on a foundation of qualities such as endless whimsy, leaving the innovation to millennials guarantees efficiency and expertly tailored messages to an audience.

[1] https://www.ted.com/talks/james_veitch_the_agony_of_trying_to_unsubscribe#t-448017